Amid the NFL labor situation, with no free agency yet, one thing is certain: There will be an NFL draft starting Thursday. With that come mock drafts (from Mel Kiper and Todd McShay) and team needs that must be met. Gary Horton examines the top six needs for every team in the NFL. Here is the file for the NFC West.
1. Quarterback: John Skelton might have some developmental qualities, but he is not ready to be the quarterback on a team with the worst QB situation in the NFL. If the coaches think Skelton could develop into a franchise quarterback, they could go with a quick free-agency fix, but this team might need to start over behind center.
2. Outside linebacker: Veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are old and struggle to stop the run, and their much-needed edge pass rush in this 3-4 defense has been nearly invisible. O'Brien Schofield has a chance to step in, but this defense might need two new OLB starters in 2011.
3. Guard: Veteran Alan Faneca may retire and Deuce Lutui could explore the free-agent market. There is marginal depth here and the inside pocket collapses far too often. This is a bad unit and the Cardinals have drafted only one offensive lineman in the first four rounds in the Ken Whisenhunt era.
4. Offensive tackle: LT Levi Brown really struggles against edge rushers (but he could possibly move inside) and RT Jeremy Bridges is a mediocre answer, along with Brandon Keith. That means the Cardinals have three below-average bookends, which is less than ideal when trying to protect an inexperienced QB.